'Using a medium-weight baitcaster combo over 6' gives you plenty of control when working vibes. This was the sandy drop-off we were working for fingermark.'
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Continuing on from last week's feature about fishing the Tip of Australia with Eclipse FNQ Charters, Lee Brake is back with a few more gems of knowledge learnt in these remote rivers. This week he has a look a vibe-style lures after seeing just how effective they were at the Tip.
After a week of fishing some of Australia's most remote rivers I picked up a thing or two. Last week I shared what I learnt about fishing the Tip's crystal-clear beaches in Part 1 and this week I thought I'd share with you a new-found appreciation for vibe-style lures.
It all started on our very first day. We were fishing the Jackson River and found ourselves out the front of the mouth fishing rubble patches in about eight metres of water. At first we jigged the usual 7' plastics we'd normally use for fingermark off Mackay, however, these proved less than popular. We downsized and on a whim I decided to go for a Threadybuster soft vibe. This lure proved to be exactly what the doctor ordered. It usually got smashed on the very first drop each drift and almost always took fish while the lure was being freespooled. A couple of quick rips up off the bottom got their attention and then they'd climb all over it on the drop. Mackerel, cod, sweetlip, coral trout and trevally all came to the surface with the vibe in their mouths. Interestingly, when we met up with the crew of the other tender in the afternoon they reported that one of their number, Bruce Riddle, had cleaned up on the mangrove jack and saratoga using a Jackall Transam – it seemed the vibes had a real niche.
This trend continued throughout the trip and a few days later Bruce again proved the effectiveness of soft vibes when fishing a snagpile in the Macdonald River. He pulled four fingermark in a row while his fishing partner didn't get a touch on the same snag while using a hardbody minnow. The next morning I got in on the action and landed a very solid cobia on a Jazz Deka Bokun metal blade. We actually spotted a giant leatherback turtle cruising along the flats. This massive creature is the world's largest turtle and was providing shelter for a small school of cobia. When it went deep as we approached I decided to send down the heavy blade to see if the cobia were still in the vicinity. Two rips of the rod tip later and I had my answer!
That seemed to be the biggest trick with vibes – don't over work them. Back up the Macdonald River I had a hot session around a pile of logs, once again using the Threadybuster. My technique was super simple. I was using a 6'3' G-Loomis baitcaster with a sensitive tip, a Shimano Chronarch reel with a ballsy drag system and 30lb braid to 40lb leader. I was targeting the drop-off in front of the logs which were actually perched on a steep corner of the beach.
This drop was around four metres deep and was holding a school of 40cm-ish fingermark. I'd cast up on the edge, pull the vibe forward and then freespool it over the edge. Then usually one slow lift and drop of the rod tip saw me either hooked-up or at least registering a hit. If the hit didn't hook-up, then another slow rise and drop of the rod usually did the trick – how easy is that?!
There are a few things to keep in mind though. Firstly you need to feel that lure pulsing through your rod blank. Graphite and braid will help a great deal with this. Secondly, you need to stay in contact with the lure at all times. As I mentioned, many, many hits come on the drop, so if you have slack line while you're dropping the lure back down, you'll miss a lot of fish. I like to freespool the lure initially while feeling the line run out between my thumb and forefinger.
That way I'll feel any hits through the line and can click the reel immediately back into gear. A baitcaster reel is better for this than spin. Then once you're on the bottom or in the strike zone, simply raising the rod from 70 degrees to 140 degrees, so that you can feel the lure vibing at all times, will get the job done. If you're after fish like jacks and fingermark a slow rise and fall is all it takes, but if you're after pelagics, like mackerel or cobia for example, then a faster, harder rip of the rod tip will tempt a hit more effectively.